In the hot, humid summer of 1942, Sergeant Nano Lucero and 80 other U.S. soldiers lived in a mountain hideout near Manila. Their food was smuggled in by friendly Filipinos. Among those who came bearing gifts were a young woman named Romana Romero, her sister and her brother. When word came over the guerrilla grapevine that the Japanese were on the way, Romana was the first to give warning.

They fled—Nano, Romana, the sister and the brother—to the lowlands of Shantol, then to the tiny village of Malabo. The Japs were always...

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